I MAY HAVE UNDERGONE 7 BRAIN SURGERIES AND STILL COGNITIVELY ALRIGHT FOR THE MOST PART, BUT I CANNOT COMPREHEND THE WORLD WE ARE LIVING IN RIGHT NOW
Get comfortable. Grab a glass of wine. Settle down before reading because this is gonna be a long one! It’a also not the most uplifting post, for sure.
George Orwell’s 1984
1984 is my favorite book of all time. Even as a young teen, I read several George Orwell books. My father encouraged it. He told me they would help me understand the world, and society as a whole. My father is extremely intellectual, so while most girls my age were reading Nancy Drew books, I read Animal Farm and 1984. I was so obsessed with 1984 that I recall writing a book report on it, and buying the movie on VHS. Yes, I am a child of the 80’s and we watched movies on a VCR.
There’s some racy scenes in the novel and movie, beyond it being an incredibly sophisticated, dark and cynical view of what Orwell imagined the world would or could become. However, I was never censored from those things as a child. It’s very likely why I was always a rather cynical person even when I was young.
If you’ve never read 1984, I cannot decide if this is the greatest time, or worst possible time to delve in. I guess it depends on your anxiety level at this stage. If you have read it, you can breeze through the synopsis. However, it is critical to my point.
1984 is considered a “dystopian” novel. Hence, it will not make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Quite the opposite. It was written and published after WWII, while Orwell was dying from TB, living on a remote island after his first wife had died unexpectedly. So, obviously this was not the work of a happy man, but truly one of a tortured soul.
Again, if you’ve never read the novel it’s very hard to sum up in a brief paragraph. However, I’ll stick to the key points and how it relates to our current state of affairs as I see them.
First, the story is set in a world dominated by war, perpetual government surveillance that is both open and secretive (Big Brother is watching), propoganda and a totalitarian state. There are Thought Police that terrorize and persecute any individual/independent thinking, termed “thoughtcrime”. Thus, there is absolutely no freedom of speech or expression. As well, even perceived thoughts against the leader, Big Brother, and the government is strictly forbidden. Yet, the people are not even sure Big Brother actually exists. Although a face touted to be Big Brother is literally everywhere. His image is on posters, projected on screens at work and even inside each person’s home.
I’m going to make it a point to re-read the novel during what seems to be such an overtly insane time in history.
OUR CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS
These days, I constantly find myself asking:
What century is this?
Are we actually living out the clear warnings of what could happen if we become like sheep, and permit the rise of a true “Orwellian society”?
I won’t get too openly political in this blog. It’s not the place. However, there are indisputable facts that will likely NEVER be forgotten when we look back at this time in history.
LOOKING AT THE NUMBERS:
Now, the following may seem a bit tedious, but again, it’s KEY to my point and trust me, I will get there.
- We are living through the worst pandemic the U.S. has ever seen.
- We do not even know the exact death toll, but as of May 1, 2020 the estimated number stands at 135,000; In the area where I live, the number stands at over 30,000 in New York and over 10,000 in New Jersey
- As of May 1, 2020 the estimated number of cases across the country stands at 1.8 million
- We are now learning of cases spreading at alarming rates throughout Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and again in Asia at an estimated 100,000 per day
- U.S. unemployment claims have now surpassed 40 million (this number doesn’t even account for those unentitled to unemployment benefits, i.e. undocumented workers; people who have recently started working, like recent graduates; and, people who have been fired for cause, whether that cause was valid or not)
Those are ALL staggering, frightening numbers! Yet, it’s difficult to grasp the true state of affairs just by reading numbers.
People have been living under quarantine restrictions for months now. Personally, besides the hospital and going to necessary doctors’ appointments, I’ve left my apartment maybe 3 times simply to go grocery shopping. People are in masks and wearing surgical gloves. We are told to stand 6-feet apart from others in public. New York’s formerly bustling streets are ghost towns… or were until several days ago. I’ll get to that.
HOWEVER COULD THIS ALL HAVE BEEN AVOIDED, OR AT LEAST CURTAILED?
- The World Health Organization (“WHO”) announced as of January 23, 2020:
- “new epidemiological information” from Chinese authorities revealed an increase in the number of cases, of suspected cases, of affected provinces, and the proportion of deaths in currently reported cases of the novel Corona virus (now, let’s be honest – the Chinese government is not exactly known for its open dialogue and expression… Ahem, 1984‘s entire premise)
- It was informed about the spread of the virus now in Japan, Republic of Korea, and Thailand, and that one new possible case had been identified in Singapore (clearly the virus was quickly spreading)
- “Human-to-human transmission” was occurring
- Of confirmed cases, 25% were reported to be severe
- It gave China very explicit directives on various measures to attempt to contain the spread of the virus
- However, ALL OTHER COUNTRIES were warned that cases could appear anywhere
So, on January 23, 2020, the WHO concluded:
Thus, all countries should be prepared for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of 2019-nCoV infection, and to share full data with WHOCitation with emphasis added: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/23-01-2020-statement-on-the-meeting-of-the-international-health-regulations-(2005)-emergency-committee-regarding-the-outbreak-of-novel-coronavirus-(2019-ncov)
- New York City reported its first confirmed case of the virus on March 1, 2020. However, not a single restriction had been put into place at that point, more than a month after the “WHO’s” warnings. Further, not even one single testing site was available.
- Just 5 days later, on March 6, 2020 35 cases were reportedly linked to just one man in Westchester County, a suburb of NYC where many live, but work in the City. Only then did officials begin to discuss quarantines, BUT only if a person believed they were in contact with that man or knew they had been in contact with someone who tested positive.
- Finally, on March 7, 2020 Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency for New York with 89 confirmed cases throughout the State. Following suit, New Jersey Governor Murphy declared a state of emergency with 11 cases. Yet still, no testing sites were available. Instead, people were flooding into hospitals in droves.
- By March 10, 2020 Governor Cuomo deployed the National Guard to a Health Department command post in Westchester County, setting up a satellite testing facility and naming a one-mile, two-week containment area but just in one town, New Rochelle, where there was a clear cluster of cases linked to that one man from that County.
- 2 days later, on March 12, 2020 NYC Mayor de Blasio declared a state of emergency for the City, stating they projected there would be at least 1,000 cases by the following week. Yet STILL, no testing sites were available.
- Then, one day later on Friday the 13th (figures), several specialized schools in New York announced they would close temporarily, and New Jersey Governor Murphy announced that positive cases in the state reached 50. He also said it was inevitable that all NJ schools would close for the remainder of the year, but did not close them.
- March 14, 2020 marked the announcement by Governor Cuomo of the 1st two virus-related deaths in NY. Yet, in both cases officials were keen to point out these people had severe underlying conditions.
- March 16, 2020 was a significant turning point in the NYC Metro area.
- By that time there were over 1,000 known positive cases in the tri-state area
- Due to the lack of response by the federal government, all 3 Governors of NY, NJ and Connecticut announced a tri-state effort to curtail the virus spread and ordered:
- gyms and casinos would close March 16 at 8 p.m. until further notice;
- bars and restaurants would close for sit-down service and would only be open for take-out delivery starting at 8 p.m. until further notice; and
- gatherings of more than 50 people were banned until further notice
- New Jersey schools would close March 18th for “at least two weeks”. Also, all non-essential retail, recreational & entertainment businesses were to close on the 16th after 8 p.m.
- FINALLY, Governor Cuomo planned to open drive-thru testing sites in Long Island, Staten Island and Rockland County. NYC Mayor de Blasio ordered 5 drive-thru testing sites in the City (yet, the vast majority of NYC residents either don’t drive or own cars…)
- The NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade was cancelled for the 1st time since 1762. Also on March 17th, Mayor de Blasio warned of a possible “shelter-in-place” order. By then, there were at least 900 confirmed, known cases in NYC alone. At that point 7 NBA players were also known to have the virus.
- March 18th was a bleak day for New York. Governor Cuomo announced more than 1,000 new cases had been confirmed overnight! In NYC alone, cases had now risen to over 1,870! The Governor ordered that all businesses were required to have at least 50% of their employees work from home, excluding essential workers.
- By just the next day, with significant testing now being conducted in New York, the States’ cases totaled at least 5,638 and 3,954 of those were in NYC. New Jersey confirmed another 300+ cases overnight! So, by March 19th, the tri-state had at least 6,538 known cases, 48 deaths that included 4 people in one NJ family!
- Then by the following day, New York State confirmed 8,300 cases with at least 5,600 in NYC.
- On March 21st, NYC saw 3,000 additional cases with Governor Cuomo attributing that to an increase in testing.
- If that wasn’t shocking enough, NY State added 5,000 more positive cases the next day, and NYC now had at least 10,764 known cases with at least 1,800 people hospitalized and at least 450 in ICU. Further, by this point NYPD, FDNY, NYC’s subway and transit workers, prisoners and corrections officers in the City’s notorious Riker’s Island jail, and of course health care workers were all reporting significant numbers of cases.
- Also on March 22nd, the President finally announced federal action to assist, New York, Washington and California (the 3 hardest hit states) and that the National Guard would be sent to NY, as well as 1,000 medical beds
***NOW WE GET TO THE 2-MONTH MARK, AFTER THE “WHO” HAD MADE ITS ANNOUNCEMENT, WARNING OF THE VIRUS’ POTENTIAL TO SPREAD AND HOW COUNTRIES SHOULD PREPARE***
– By March 23, 2020 –
- Governor Cuomo mandated all New York hospitals to increase their capacity by at least 50 percent, although they should aim for 100 percent!
- 5,707 new cases had been reported, bringing the State’s total to 20,857, with the majority of the cases (12,305) in NYC. However, later that day the City added hundreds more cases, bringing the total to 13,119 — with the death toll in the five boroughs hitting triple-digits after climbing to 125 by the end of the day.
- NJ announced 935 new cases, bringing that State’s total to 2,844 and 27 deaths.
- Connecticut’s cases rose from 327 to 415. Two more people died in the state, bringing their total to 10.
The rest, they say is history… and not one the history books should ever look upon favorably, but rather with disgrace.
If this all doesn’t INFURIATE you, considering how many lives could have been saved, considering how early, simple precautions could have eliminated so much pain, considering the toll on our healthcare workers & essential workers, well then I have no words for you.
HOW THIS ALL RELATES TO ME, AS A BRAIN CANCER SURVIVOR, AND TO ALL THOSE WITH UNDERLYING CONDITIONS
How this applies to my personal life is startling when I look back. It almost leaves me speechless, but clearly I’ve got A LOT to say on the matter.
First, I underwent surgery January 17th. So, I was in ICU when the “WHO” made their recommendations. I doubt I would have even known of the warnings. Nevertheless, I was in a very critical recovery period from my 7th brain surgery.
From ICU, I went straight to acute rehab. I remained hospitalized until February 12th. So, officials knew the virus was out there. Cases of the virus had already been confirmed in Italy (or to be more frank-this wasn’t contained to Asian countries) and the numbers kept rising. At the time I was discharged, Italy was officially under a state of emergency. Yet, no one warned me to stay home, wear a mask or utilize any precautions.
TO BE CLEAR: I do not in any way blame my doctors for this. There were no guidelines in place. There were no tests available, to my knowledge anyway. I frankly don’t where the disconnect occurred, as I imagine hospitals and doctors follow the “WHO”. Yet, without governmental policies or procedures in place, what could have been done?
Moving on, I had been cooped up for nearly a month in the hospital, but came out feeling strong, resilient and ready to just get moving again! However, there were numerous post-op appointments and several appointments I had to make-up that I’d missed while in the hospital.
My first was an MRI and post-op appointment with my neurosurgeon, which was in the Main Hospital Building on February 26th. Now, my hospital is one of NYC’s largest and was frankly, bombarded by virus patients. Yet again, I really was not informed about the potential of the virus hitting us. There was so much rhetoric about how this was a “Chinese virus” and that it was no worse than the common flu. Yet, I was less than a month and a half out of major surgery, and had been living in a totally sterile environment in the hospital. In the streets and in the hospital buildings, NO ONE was wearing masks, practicing social distancing or in quarantine, from what I knew. So, I walked around the hospital and NYC freely.
Then, on March 6th, I landed in the E.R. I fell and hit my head so I was quite concerned about my poor brain. Was something wrong with the shunt? Was I suddenly declining again? Lucky for me, I texted my neurosurgeon and he had his resident take me back very quickly. I got an isolated room, but I noticed things seemed a bit strange in the triage areas. I’ve been to my share of E.R.s and they never look “normal”, but I remember saying to my husband that things looked really off. Now I can’t assume, but we know the virus hit NY well before that first case was announced March 1st. I shudder to think of that day, not just for my health but also my husband’s who being the wonderful man that he is also came to the E.R. Anyway, my CT was clear and I was discharged God knows how many hours later.
On March 9th, I had my outpatient PT and OT evaluations. I was so excited to get back to a regular workout schedule to continue getting stronger. Little did I know, I would not return!
As an aside, in that facility people tend to be immune-compromised. The cancer center is there. Plus, those undergoing PT & OT can be quite disabled because I treat on the brain injury floor.
Two days later, I had multiple appointments in different buildings of the hospital. Again, no one was wearing masks. I certainly wasn’t.
On the day I’d typically be celebrating my Irish heritage (and not by getting drunk and puking all over the streets, like people tend to do on St. Patrick’s Day) I marched instead into the Main Hospital Building on March 17th for an EEG and to see a general surgeon because I had serious digestive issues ever since the shunt surgery in January. At that point, the surgeon was in PPE but neither my husband nor I was instructed to wear a mask. If you look back at my timeline, by that point there were nearly 1,000 confirmed cases of the virus in NYC alone! Plus, to add fuel to the fire, 1,000 cases were then reported overnight! While the announcement had come on the 16th that drive-thru testing sites would be put in place, they weren’t set up the day I strolled into the hospital. So, where were people going if they suspected they had contracted the virus? The E.R. And where were they being treated? The Main Hospital Building!
I also have to admit that I “drank the Kool-Aide”. I believed people who told me this would just be like the flu. That this was America acting hysterical again, like when they warn of snow in winter… yeah, it’s winter and it snows in the Northeast. I made fun of people literally fighting over toilet paper.
I travel constantly so I never worried about Zika, Dengue fever or malaria. I was a scuba diver and wanted to dive with sharks and sting rays, and I did. I never had a fear of flying. I felt safer in a plane than in a car. That was all even before cancer. So, my MO was always, “You can’t live your life in fear”.
Well, I will tell you that after all I’ve learned I should have been scared to hell of this virus!
Where virus patients were kept in NYC. 1.) A navy vessel, the U.S.N.S Comfort, docked at a Manhattan pier March 30th. Originally, it was meant to relieve NYC hospitals overrun by virus patients and accept non-virus patients. After severe scrutiny, it chose to accept virus patients. However, the 1,000-bed hospital ship treated just 182 patients. 2.) A portion of the 68-bed field hospital, created to treat Covid-19 patients from the Mount Sinai hospital system located in Manhattan’s iconic Central Park. 3.) A “surge tent” at NY Presbyterian-Weill Cornell for patients with “mild respiratory illnesses”. 4.) Another iconic NYC space, the Jacob Javits Center was converted into a military-run field hospital
SO WHAT DOES ANY OF THIS HAVE TO DO WITH 1984?
It’s clear at least in my eyes, that vital information was kept from the general public by government officials, regardless of what party they belonged to.
It’s known that four U.S. senators sold off stocks after receiving sensitive briefings in late January about the emerging threat of the coronavirus, sparking concerns that they put safeguarding their private finances before their duty to protect public health.
Senator Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, and Kelly Loeffler, a Republican from Georgia, both completed their sales at a time when the Trump administration and GOP leaders were downplaying the potential damage the virus might cause in the U.S. and before drastic stock-market plunges set off by the pandemic… Two other members of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, and Senator James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, also sold stock after the briefings, according to financial records.Citation: https://www.google.com/amp/s/fortune.com/2020/03/20/senators-burr-loeffler-sold-stock-coronavirus-threat-briefings-in-january/amp/
Burr is Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and receives frequent briefings about threats facing the country. Loeffler sits on the Health Committee and is married to the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, Jeffrey Sprecher. Huh, convenient!
Besides selling shares for millions of dollars, we know high-ranking officials in our government:
- Were briefed as early as JANUARY of the threat the virus posed
- We know of at least these 4 Senators (and I don’t doubt there’s many others) who made significant monetary gains from that information all while us-the people they swore to serve and represent-suffered and died excruciating deaths! While the economy imploded. While millions of hardworking Americans lost jobs. While invaluable doctors and nurses lost their lives by simply trying to save the lives of others. While families struggled quarantined in their homes for months, and still are! While we “the people” were uninformed and frankly misled to believe this virus would not affect us.
Frankly, it disgusts me that our officials were briefed in January yet NOTHING WAS DONE TO PROTECT US.
I very easily could’ve contracted the virus and given my condition at the time, it could’ve been extremely bad. I could have wound up on some Navy ship docked where I could see it from my home. Yet somehow by the Grace of God, I didn’t. My fellow cancer survivors and those undergoing treatment could have just as easily gotten very sick.
Our government made a strategic decision to hide vital information from its people, information that was literally a matter of life and death. Not only that, despite this knowledge they failed to put a single precaution, restriction and/or regulation in place to protect its people. Yes, that generally falls within the purview of the States. That’s not the point though.
So, what’s our current state of affairs got to do with Orwell’s bleak vision of the future? Well, everything.
- Governmental propoganda
- Misinformation, or lack of information
- Failure to care for, protect and serve the common man – Only the rich and powerful with allegiance to the current government matter
- Totalitarian rule – a system of government that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state
- A society in which any criticism or questioning of the government is immediately silenced by deeming it “fake”
- A country where the 2nd Amendment is praised and must be protected at all costs. Yet, the 1st Amendment is absolutely suppressed